Penang / Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

Malaysia was quite a change after after Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. Pretty much everyone speaks English, and no more Tuk Tuks. Also, everywhere we went was packed with tourists, but not western tourists. Tourists in Malaysia (at least in December) are mostly from other parts of Malaysia or Singapore.

We were here during Durian season, and the smell of durian is everywhere. Durian is now trendy, and there are people selling it out of the back of their trucks everywhere. I don’t mind the smell, but a lot of people don’t like it.

We stayed in a huge AirBNB in George Town on Penang Island. 3 bedrooms, 2 bathroom and a huge herb garden for $27/night. It was in a quiet neighborhood a 10 min ($1.50) Uber ride from everything.

There are a number of good museums in George Town such as Pinang Peranakan Mansion, and some great hiking in the nearby National Park. I did an excellent (and easy) bike tour on the back side of the island with great guides. And then there is the crazy WonderFood museum (photo below).

George Town is known throughout Malaysia as a food lovers dream, and locals are very proud of their food. People come just to eat at the ‘hawker stalls’ (photo below). Most everything is $1.50 to $2. Overall I think I prefer Thai food, but I like the greater diversity of food options in Malaysia. But be prepared for much higher prices for alcohol in Malaysia, as it is heavily taxed. For example, cans of Tiger beer in a supermarket are $2 each.

Here are a selection of our photos from Penang.

Next we took a bus to the Cameron Highlands. This area is full of tea plantations, vegetable farms, and more recently, strawberry farms. Cameron is the second place on our travels where it got even a little bit chilly at night (60 degrees F), the first being Sapa, Vietnam.

I did a fantastic guided hike with Jason, who works out of Father’s Guesthouse. Jason grew up in the Cameron Highlands, got a law degree in London, and speaks with a perfect BBC accent. He worked as a lawyer for the environment in Malaysia for 6 years, and then quit to be a tour guide instead. Much less frustrating. We learned a lot about jungle plants, and talked about environmentalism, politics, religion, and philosophy along the way. Be sure to take a tour with him if you find yourself there.

I also saw some incredible wood carvings at the Mah Meri Art Gallery. Check them out.

Here is a selection of photos from Cameron Highlands.

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